Page last updated at 09:35 GMT, Thursday, 1 January 2009

Executive 'must work for economy'

Peter Robinson - Press Association
Peter Robinson said people expected a response to the downturn

The Northern Ireland Executive must do all it can to keep the economy moving, First Minister Peter Robinson has said.

In a new year message, the DUP leader said he was confident in 2009 the executive could "demonstrate why devolution is good for the people".

He said people understood the executive did not cause the global economic difficulties, "but they expect us to respond to them".

"Keeping people in work must be a central focus this year," he said.

Mr Robinson said the recession should not be "meekly" accepted but could be used "to Northern Ireland's advantage by playing to our advantages internationally for those who wish to invest and by preparing for the recovery".

He said people should not "underestimate just how far Sinn Fein has travelled" in accepting policing arrangements, but that "we must never again allow narrow party political agendas to divert the focus of the executive away from delivering for the people of Northern Ireland".

He said he wanted politics to move forward on the basis of consensus but "this can only be done by all ministers respecting the authority of the executive and, especially at this time, not seeking to peddle political dogma".

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said republicans wanted to see commitments in the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements implemented.

"Vital areas of work remain to be completed, specifically in the areas of the Bill of Rights, equality and the Irish language," he said.

He said that the executive had been able to take "some measures to help families experiencing hardship in these difficult economic times but more work will be required".

"In particular there is a need to tackle the lack of economic and fiscal sovereignty, and the British Government's inadequate annual subvention, which limits the options available to the executive," he said.

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